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In Writing

Unsound: Future Shock Zine extracts and tracks

October 2011

The folks at Krakow's Unsound festival are putting together a publication that they'll distribute during the fest (9–16 October, supported by The Wire). Below, read contributions and listen to tracks from artists who will be performing at Unsound, including William Bennett, Christelle Gualdi aka Stellar OM Source and Natural Snow Buildings.

Above, stream tracks by: Natural Snow Buildings "No Light Pollution" (unreleased), Morphosis "Androids Among Us" is from What Have We Learned and Jacaszek's "Daregale" is from his forthcoming album Glimmer, out 6 December on Ghostly.

William Bennett (aka Cut Hands):
'You’re either with us or against us'. It’s so easy to be suckered into binary polarised responses. The inherited linguistic trap of the double bind. If you’re not one thing, then you must be the other.

Similarly: 'do you believe in god, or not?' At dinner parties I’d get asked how one is not atheist whilst disbelieving the existence of any god. And I’d stuffily point out that I saw atheism as essentially a construct that wouldn't have existed without the fundamentalist intolerance of post-Gnostic Christianity. Historically, people were, and to a certain extent still are, forced to make a choice to accept or reject. Yawn.

Mercifully, a cuter metaphor occurred to me: A chimpanzee, say, doesn't recognise any deity, nor is he or she an atheist. There is no god, and you can't prove that which doesn't exist; it's not a belief, it's a state. So I'm down with the chimp. I admire and envy that place in the now he or she inhabits.

Toffler’s fascinating thesis of Future Shock (1) implies either that we should wonder how one is to stop trying to achieve calm in an accelerated turbulent world where it has ceased to exist, or wonder why, a priori, we would want to stop trying to achieve this calm.

And here too I’m with the chimp. All human efforts to stop trying to attain that state are founded upon the same motivations as efforts to attain it. They represent the same problem: both responses, while seemingly contradictory, coincide in their design to achieve a dreamed utopian and secure future based upon a dreamed utopian paradise lost.

Existence is by nature an uncertain, unsafe endeavour. Furthermore, it’s from entering the realm of what we can’t or don’t know that we can find things worth knowing. That’s something to be cherished and embraced.

It’s futile to lament or plan for life’s inherent insecurity beyond the confines, whether past or future, of the immediate present. To me, now is, by definition, a better, happier, more fun place to be.

(1) Toffler defines the term 'future shock' as a certain psychological state of both individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time" (from Wikipedia)

Stellar OM Source

There will come a time in your life when you will ask yourself a series of questions:
Am I happy with who I am?
Am I happy with the people around me?
Am I happy with what I'm doing?
Am I happy with the way my life is going?
Do I have a life?
Or am I just living?

Do not let these questions restrain or trouble you

Just point yourself in the direction of your dreams
Find your strength in the sound
And make your transition.

From Underground Resistance's "Transition"

"Heidi Toffler: In Future Shock in 1970 we talked about information overload. I think if you're bombarded with too much information about anything, you get overloaded and you can't function."

Lil B has a song called "The Age Of Information" where he says: "But are we dumbing down for technology and the cost of living? How come the human race isn't progressing as fast as technology has?"

Information overload may make it hard to think for yourself at all. Who is in? Who is out? What should I buy? What to do? Who do I like and why?

I have been thinking a lot about this regarding music, art and creativity over the past years and this has raised more questions than answers.

Are the profusion of new technologies making us more creative? What is original about the 2K years? What is our 'now'? When all the past becomes so familiar and comfortable, what's the need for innovation? Is this flood of influences not overwhelming for the imagination? Do we experience a lack of ideologies, visions, otherwise from the (immediate) past? Is this reassurance from the past not creating paralysis? What do we leave for the future?

It's what we face: the past, the present and the future, simultaneously. Are the collages and remixes the real contemporary creativity? And what happens after music and art refer to themselves one too many times? Just asking here.

"There is nothing that can educate children better than reading a book. The fantasy comes to grief. And one who has no fantasy - what could he/she do with modern technology? The digital revolution will bring them nothing. We in Kraftwerk had to build lots of things on our own. And this brought fantasy in masses!" says Kraftwerk's Wolfgang Flür. What does our Twitter timeline bring us?

Sean Booth of Autechre says (in The Wire 230): "We have slowed down in our uptake on new stuff purely because spending time checking out new things distracts you from becoming properly acquainted with the things you're already using. We've always used roughly the same tool set during the years but the amount of new stuff you're exposed to increases exponentially." How long did we use the last plugin for Ableton?

Who in music is saying something similar today? "We're not really interested in tearing you up with the scratches and cuts tonight. We're more interested in... educating you for the future." says Derrick May.

The chance is that a lot of people think about this, and share their thoughts and act in an 'Aquarian Conspiracy' prophecy. Because “Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.” (A.Toffler), maybe all that activity opens up other worlds next to each other.

Just wondering here.

Natural Snow Buildings aka Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte:

natural snow buildings

Every time we see wind turbines, rotors slowly turning, we just can’t help but think about the Future. In our view, that’s the most futuristic yet basic apparatus man has ever created: using wind to produce energy. Wind farms. This expression tells everything. We can’t help but feeling nostalgic about a future that could have been, some uchronic embranchment we totally missed… And by some twisted space/time distortion, we can have a glimpse of what’s happening in some better and gentle parallel future. Wind turbines represent our very personal resistance to change.

In 1966, a young nurse tells to the camera the gruesome details about victims taken in a firestorm: they were just falling apart. Another woman confesses her total ignorance concerning the effects of the strontium 90 on the human body. Those portraits of people confronted with the more drastic human technology created shock you can imagine are taken from a docudrama: The War Game, in which Peter Watkins, using the knowledge of similar situations that happened in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden, carefully dramatised the unpreparedness of England (and therefore of any country) if confronted by a large scale nuclear attack.

We can’t ignore the powerful adaptive capacity of human beings, building syncretism out of the most dissimilar and dissonant innovations, but every scientific advancement in any domain from medicine to robotics lies in the shadow of its military and destructive counterpart. Nuclear destruction is the most abrupt collision with the future we can have nightmares about. Should it be illustrated by a giant lizard destroying Tokyo, the dead rising to feed on human brains or climate change?

By introducing violence at the very core of things and disturbing its inner structure, nuclear science built its very own path into the future. 1971: a desert, two teams: activists on the left, cops on the right. The latter preying on the former in a grotesque race for a red flag. Forget about space travels and personal jet packs, flying cars and robot slaves: welcome to the nuclear-age Enclave of the Future: it’s not called Westworld, it’s called Punishment Park.

1974, an entropic sun is bursting open the sky of Texas, like it was about to cook the whole world down there; an astrology book is read aloud, planet's conjunctions announcing bad events; a picture is taken then burnt in a strange propitiation rite before the hunt; a terrified young woman is invited to a cannibalistic supper, her own eyeballs, closed up, under pressure of some inner fission… The place is isolated enough to make you think it could be anywhere the 'day after'… Several years ahead, detoured on an orange glow background, Michael Berryman’s crazy look staring at us. We’re too young to realize it but he’s our Future Shock, the bogeyman you’ll have to fight after the desertification of this world. Information overload won’t be the danger anymore, Information flowing is life. An infinity of culture constantly in the making, lost in the fire, buried under the ashes, the memory slowly fading away while its remains lie on the shoulder of the few humans left, shocked and wandering on the roads; information stripped bare to the stuttering messages of the Emergency Network broadcast taking over; wind blowing its droning song through the ruins. This is our Future Shock.

Unsound is a music/art festival supported by The Wire, on the theme Future Shock, with John Foxx & The Maths, Chris & Cosey, Morton Subotnick & Lillevan, Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer, Kode9 & MFO, The Caretaker, Sun Araw, Hype Williams, Kanding Ray, Felix Kubin & Macio Moretti, Laurel Halo, Cut Hands, Sex Worker, Ital, Joy Orbison, Jam City, Jacaszek, Maria Minerva, Mark McGuire, MMM, DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn and more, plus talks, artist Q&As and more. Krakow various venues, 9–16 October.

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